I think it may be time for all of us to push our edge a bit. That place where fear creeps in, and we hold back, and we hold back, and we hold back, not even realizing it is our edge. We go through each day safe; the status quo is just fine.

But what if we looked at the edge differently, the status quo differently? What if we embraced each day, each moment as an opportunity for research? Maybe — just maybe — we’d explore those edges more, find new limits, and risk more. And in the process we may just: learn more, love more, connect more, play more, laugh more, lead more, speak more, and just do more overall!

Three Days in Paris

I was near the end of three weeks working in France. Instead of flying straight home, a coworker and I delayed our connecting flight from Paris to the US by three days, a mini-vacation, well earned after. She’d been, and I’d not, so she knew where to go, stay, eat and visit. And knowing what I know now about myself – I probably leaned on her too much those first two days, trusted her expertise, and took a back seat. I let her lead. I was in my twenties and was a bonafide people-pleaser, always putting others first.

On My Own

Our last day, we went our separate ways. I was super excited and ready to explore! To be me, to run the show, without the input of anyone else. I mapped it out and knew where I was going, what tourist sights I was going to see, what subways I needed to ride, knowing exactly where they were. I planned where I was stopping for coffee, pastries, and a beer (yes, a beer in France… my appreciation for wine was still in its infancy, only three weeks old).

I had no fear about wandering around Paris by myself. Roaming wasn’t my edge. NYC and Washington DC were my playgrounds and training grounds for such an adventure – the only difference was I didn’t speak French and hadn’t fully grasped the money.

It is a day etched in my brain, full of wonderful memories.

The Edge

Oh, but that edge. As the day moved into evening, my backpack full of chocolate and wine to bring back to the states, I started walking towards my hotel when a small French restaurant with maybe ten tables caught my eye. The dinner menu out on the board, I stopped and attempted to read it. What if, my last night in Paris, I enjoyed what could be a fantastic dinner, instead of what I had planned? I had fallen in love with French food and wine, so I knew it would be a decadent meal.

But the mind chatter began with all the reasons why I couldn’t enjoy this dinner. Fear crept in and everything running through my head was negative.

How could I possibly eat in a nice restaurant by myself? How pathetic is that?
What will others think, say, assume about me?

This wasn’t part of the plan. I could easily snack on the food I had back in my room. I wouldn’t starve, and I wasn’t that hungry.

But, I waited out the fear.  “This was the last good meal in France” and “…Who cares what they think, I’ll never see them again” arguments won over all the other reasons of why I couldn’t. With my heart beating fast and my voice shaking, I stepped through the doorway and requested a table for one. I’m so glad I did. The dinner was fantastic, the house wine — yum, deliciousness all around. I even made new friends who invited me to join them for dessert, conversation, and laughter.

A fear conquered, an edge gone. How do we push an edge that we didn’t know was there?

First, we start with awareness.
Second, we notice our body’s reaction to the unknown.
Third, we ask ourselves:

Am I playing it safe?
Am I allowing my fear to keep me from living full out?
Am I making up rules that are limiting me – are they even MY rules?
What is the worst that could happen? (And is that realistic?)

Feel the fear, take a deep breath, and take one small step forward! Where will you challenge edges?

I encourage you to explore those edges, those fears. And Live, Lead, and Play More!